When most people are buying or selling a home, the house itself often isn’t the only major point of interest. The community around you, including the area’s economy, crime rate, and schools all play a part in your decision, because these things will directly affect you once you move into the neighborhood. Conversely, if you’re planning on selling the home in the future, potential buyers will be asking the same questions; knowing your environment is important regardless of your situation.

First off, what attracted you to the town in the first place? Was it the sense of community you felt in the town, or – depending on the location and your tastes – the quiet privacy of the rural location? A bustling downtown area? While all these characteristics are subject to rates of change, as is the economy of the area, it’s important to pay attention because the community can give you valuable clues as to the financial well-being of an area, as well as its safety.

Potential buyers and sellers should educate themselves as to how their city compares, on average, with the national and countywide crime rates. Are the police force and fire department effective and responsive to the needs of the community? Are they centrally located in the town so as to respond to emergencies quickly?

A good sign for a stable and viable economy is a healthy mix of commercial and business districts, which provide jobs to the local residents, and thus add an income source which the city can draw from to pay for upgrades and maintenance of local roads and city services. Conversely, the quality of city streets and neighborhoods tell a lot about the pride of ownership that exists within the town, as do the city buildings – the post offices, the libraries, and the schools. Even if you do not have children or don’t intend to have them, potential buyers will have concerns that include the local school systems in the area. What’s the best way to find this out? Take a drive around the area and take a look at the schools. Check for things like auxiliary trailers on the grounds – which could indicate overcrowded classrooms.

Call the school district to check on whether children always attend the school closest to their home. If this isn’t the case, find out why. If the schools are overcrowded, are there measures being taken into account for the growing local population, and how will this affect property taxes?

Last but not least, property taxes are often a make or break point for homebuyers. Higher property taxes mean that the homes have less of a square footage price, but they can also mean better quality schools and community services. Weigh in your options, and remember that keeping up-to-date on your community’s information pays off when selling your home.